THE Conservative Party leadership contest has provided the Scottish Government with an unexpected summer windfall. There have been so many tasty treats that Nicola Sturgeon must feel like a child who’s been given a few quid to spend as she likes on the shows.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak between them have delivered so much candy that the SNP will be using it as a deflector shield for a while to come. Scotland’s First Minister will miss all this after the contest finally reaches its conclusion today. And if, as expected, Liz Truss carries the day who knows what further nuggets lie in store?

The Tory leadership contest quickly proceeded in a predictable manner; each candidate becoming more aggressively reactionary as they sought to appeal to the scarecrow faction of the party’s rabid right-wing. Mr Sunak, to be fair, never looked entirely comfortable swimming in this sewer. How could he have when the Brexit battle-fever was being revived and perfidious foreigners were once more being targeted?

Ms Truss, on the other hand, seemed energised by it. Her insistence that tax-cuts rather than “hand-outs” were her preferred means of tackling the oncoming energy price apocalypse was a clear declaration of intent. At a time of national emergency her main priority will be to protect the rich and let the poor fend for themselves as best they can. Of what use is a cut in National Insurance to people earning less than £25k a year?

The SNP always make a grand and ostentatious play of being appalled by the pantomime wickedness of these nasty Tories. Yet, while the spotlight rests on them it isn’t exposing the fecklessness of Ms Sturgeon and her glove-puppet cabinet whose responsibilities seem to exist on paper only.

In Scottish politics a curious pattern has recently emerged whenever something approaching a crisis emerges that requires to be taken in hand. Thus, the First Minister makes a personal intervention to bring order to the chaos.

Last week she decided to take personal control of crucial talks between the three trade unions representing council-workers and COSLA. Lo and indeed behold. An agreement was speedily reached, but Ms Sturgeon said that this would necessitate “horrendous” decisions elsewhere. This was a classic and class-based power play of which Ms Truss herself would have been proud: turn low-paid workers on each other by hinting that some in their midst had got too greedy and selfish.

As the head of a devolved administration with significant tax powers of its own what’s stopping the First Minister raising revenue in this emergency by increasing taxes on our highest earners? She’s previously described the concept of taxing higher earners a little more as “daft”. So, that’ll be a No.

As the Tory leadership hustings have proceeded the outgoing UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has taken the opportunity to have an extended holiday. Cost-of-living crisis? What do you want me to do about it? You should have thought of this before you ditched me.

Ms Sturgeon seems to have taken her lead from Mr Johnson’s approach. For much of August she appeared in her own little Fringe event, running almost daily where a host of willing courtiers from the gilded worlds of media and entertainment got to share a stage with her. Later this year she’ll be visiting the UN in New York before flying to Egypt for the Cop 27, which has become a global Oscars event for performing politicians.

Are we seeing the start of an extended farewell world tour of venues and events where she’ll be unlikely to encounter any of the dispossessed? Who knows? It certainly seems to be avoiding edgier locations. You certainly won’t see her or anyone else in her party joining picket lines of striking workers and certainly not now that she’s effectively told them that any future wage increases or financial help have been scuppered by the avarice of the council workers.

Perhaps this is unfair. After all, a small detachment from the higher echelons of the SNP stuck closely together at a candlelit vigil last Wednesday in Glasgow to remember all those who keep dying in Scotland’s addiction apocalypse.

Along with Angela Constance, Scotland’s drugs policy minister, there was Anne McLaughlin, the party spokesperson for justice and immigration, and a local councillor called Graham Campbell who serves on the SNP’s national executive committee. They were reinforced by a North Face cohort of advisers. That aphorism about blow torches and brass necks was designed for them.

Like so many other devolved areas in which the SNP’s writ has run continuously for 15 years the addiction sector rewards a middle-class elite of bureaucrats and academics while condemning poor people to perish.

Hundreds of millions of pounds have disappeared into a financial black hole at the centre of this wretched industry. Audit Scotland doesn’t know where the money went and nor, it seems, do the Scottish Government. No-one amongst all the chief executives and industry managers know where it’s gone and the frontline workers in the third sector don’t know where it is.

The swollen numbers of officers and administrators in the three addiction quangos provide some clues, but there is little financial accountability or performance review. Meanwhile, of course, poor people keep dying in record numbers year after year.

The controlled narrative is about managing this crisis by specious harm-reduction methods rooted in giving addicts more drugs in safe environments. “Safe environment” here is middle class code for anywhere that keeps these people away from polite places.

In an interview with The Herald on Saturday, Annemarie Ward, the experienced anti-addiction campaigner, nailed the sickness at the heart of civic Scotland’s woeful response to the drugs deaths. “Fundamentally what this industry does is to deny completely the nature of the beast of addiction. You cannot “control” addiction. It is not manageable. We have a multi-million-pound sector that tries to manage the symptoms of a completely uncontrollable and unmanageable condition. If it was manageable and controllable it wouldn’t be addiction.”

Like so many other places bearing the traces of the Scottish Government’s footprints, the SNP have created a wasteland rather than a legacy. The educational attainment gap remains massive and care for the elderly and the mentally infirm who were literally abandoned during the early stages of Covid-19 is a sick joke. The next index of multi-deprivation figures will show no improvement in the lives of Scotland’s most disadvantaged people.

These are Nicola Sturgeon’s legacies. And it’s why she’s taking refuge in festivals and symposiums, all the bagatelles of a sinewy, shape-changing political super-class. Happily for her, Liz Truss and the Conservatives will keep the show on the road.

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